Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Recent articles in the local paper have really clarified for me the extent of athleticism in this town. The first article that really stuck with me was about an annual race in honor of an athlete named Daniel. The race is called the Danielesque. The idea is to celebrate a Danielesque way of life: When you have lost the path, "choose the trail that is the furthest, steepest, and most challenging…Charging up some monstrous hill in the midst of a blizzard, that's Danielesque. Putting your head down and pedaling harder against a raging head wind, that's Danielesque…Danielesque also means handling adversity with equanimity, and always paying attention to the needs of others."

What most people would consider "extreme" sports are actually mainstream here. Normal people make physical activity a way of life. Athletic ones do 72-hour marathons. Running a regular marathon—only 26 miles—is normal. Not running is pretty lax.

Then there was the gift-giving guide that highlighted a certain backpack as a nice gift. The selling points of this backpack included, according the paper, special dedicated pockets for your avalanche shovel and probe. That was an eye opener for me. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, take care to avoid avalanche prone areas and think that if you are the kind of person that finds it necessary to carry an avalanche shovel and probe on a regular basis, you are not long on this earth. But these matter-of-fact gift ideas—yes! that's exactly what I've been looking for!—make you question if not spending every weekend high on avalanche prone slopes means you are missing out.

Then there was another article about trail running at night. A seasonal kind of activity it seems. Yes, in Boulder, people don't just run on tracks or roads or treadmills, they run on hiking trails and they run up mountains. And, as if this wasn't enough, they do this at night. My humble opinion? That is a true addict. But as addictions go, at least it has a healthy aspect to it. It's better than being surrounded by alcoholics or compulsive gamblers.

And then there was the hike I did last week up to Bear Peak for the second part of my birthday, when Greg came back in town. Hiking Bear Peak is something I have wanted to do since we moved here. I can see the summit right outside my window and the trail practically starts at our front door. It’s not super high, but above 8,000 ft, and a good 2,000 ft above where we live. We went a long, gradual back route. After hiking for over 3 miles and gaining quite a bit of elevation, we came to a sign that said, “Private Property, NO TRESPASSING.” The next two lines on the sign were pure Boulder: “No hiking, no jogging.” We are half-way up a mountain and they have to specify “no jogging.” Most places it would be “no hunting,” but I guess that is a given around here as the large buck with antlers who stopped and stared at us near the sign attested.

Now I don't know how healthy it is to run 100 miles, but I do think this normalizing of physical activity is healthy. It certainly has rubbed off on me, if in only a small Bear Peakish way. Even when I have to remind myself: running trails at night IS NOT NORMAL! Packing an avalanche shovel and probe IS NOT NORMAL! It’s still fun to imagine: what if it was??

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